In an effort to share more of my day-to-day life with you, I thought I’d tell you all about my job. I applied to be an “English ambassador” over winter break last year and got the job just in time for spring, so this is my second semester doing it.
Basically, this means that once or twice a week I meet with prospective students – usually juniors in high school – who are thinking about majoring in either English or English & Creative Writing. (A brand-new major at my school! I switched from just plain English to that a while ago.)
This is always in the afternoons, since the students and their parent(s) spent the morning touring the campus and learning general information about the school. They come to us after lunch to receive information specific to the program they’re interested in, as can anyone eyeing any program. (For example, there’s someone with a position similar to mine who talks to Engineering students, et cetera.)
A typical session involves however many student/parent groups stopped by today, plus me, another ambassador, the woman who advises all the students in this department, and a professor. The advisor gives an overview of the program, the professor talks about what writing and lit classes are typically like, and my fellow ambassador and I weigh in with the student perspective.
It’s honestly a really enjoyable job! Admittedly, it’s not a very difficult or strenuous job, so… yeah. Buuuut it also helps that I love talking about my school and more specifically the English program! It’s the kind of thing I do anyway, only now I’m getting paid for it.
Additionally, I like that it’s way more low-key than giving the general tours of the school! I’ve talked to at most five families during a session, so it’s not like I have to be super outgoing in front of a large group: It’s pretty quiet and relaxed.
It’s definitely been a learning experience. I know the details of the English program backwards and forwards and inside and out. I’ve developed a spiel of sorts – although it changes a little every time, since I adapt it based on the interests of the students I’m seeing on that particular day – about my experiences as an English major. I’ve gotten to know the professors I work with better and have found out all kinds of interesting things about the projects they’re working on!
I love talking about the writing/literature community, too. The student-run literary mags, the open mics, the readings and book tours, the Iowa City Book Festival, the guest lecturers, the writing- and lit-focused floors in the dorms, the writing groups located across town.
I think it’s important that they know that Iowa City can/should play just as big of a role in their college experiences as the school itself. I didn’t really give the town a second thought when I visited or even applied to the school and while everything worked out just fine, it could have been disastrous. Luckily, this is a super supportive place and people welcome writers of all stripes.
I also make sure to mention the Rainbow Room, which is the LGBT writing group affiliated with the Iowa Writers’ House, an organization I’ve been volunteering with for almost a year now. (I co-lead the RR!) It’s so so so important to me that I let students, whether closeted or out, that there is a place for them! Since upperclassmen did that for me when I was an incoming freshman, I think of it as paying it forward: I’m so grateful they helped me in that way, so I’ll do everything possible to encourage the next cohort of students to do and be their best.
It’s a wonderful job and I’m so glad to have it. The funny thing is, I didn’t go to a session like this when I toured UI! My mom and I had had a long day and were both tired, so we just headed home instead. I had already fallen in love with the school and knew even then it was where I wanted to go, but sometimes I laugh because I didn’t think attending an English information session was important at the time and now it’s one of the best parts of my week!